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'Insta-dad' Simon Hooper on importance of meal times

He may be a social media star but Simon Hooper doesn't let his kids use phones at the dinner table

Simon Hooper
Simon Hooper

By Lisa Salmon

New research suggests 95% of families have disagreements at mealtimes - including Simon Hooper, aka Instagram's 'Father of Daughters'. The popular Insta-dad has a million followers on the social media platform, where he posts about his sometimes chaotic life as a dad to four girls (aged 12, eight and three-year-old twins). Hooper (36), whose wife Clemmie, a midwife, is the equally popular Instagram influencer 'Mother of Daughters', is working with McCain to launch the Nation's Conversations - a new report looking into what families are talking about at meal times. Here, he reveals what effect being an Insta-dad has had on family life...

What are family meal times like in your house?

"Hectic. Silence died a long time ago and it's more likely that I'll be hit by lightning twice while buying the winning lottery ticket, and then get randomly selected to be an astronaut on the way home, than it is to get all six bums on seats at the same time."

Do you always sit at the table?

"Yes, we try to. Dinner time is a great time to find out how our days have gone (but usually getting a response other than 'fine' is like getting blood from a stone from the eldest), but we also get to chat about stuff that people have learnt and plan the week ahead."

Do you allow tech at the table?

"No, there's time enough for screens away from the table. Apparently, 40% of parents now allow mobile devices at the dinner table, but we want our girls to focus on the value of normal human interaction. Real life is more important than the virtual one."

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Do you do any cooking?

"Yes, Clemmie and I share the responsibilities. We both work, so invariably one of us isn't around to make dinner. That means the other person needs to pick up the slack."

Do you still have enough privacy?

"We choose what we share and therefore still have a degree of control over our privacy. Talking openly about parenting was our choice, and in many ways I get back what I put out there. To me, Instagram is a kind of open source therapy that can be really positive."

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